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The One Strategy I Used When My Mom Had Alzheimer’s for Eleven Years

With Alzheimer’s on the rise in our society, most of us know someone personally who has had this terrible disease or we know of a family that has experienced the loss of a love one to Alzheimer’s. 

Eleven years is a long time to suffer and is not usually the norm, but that is how long my Mom had Alzheimer’s.  My Mom was special and a deeply faith-filled woman. She could also beat me at Yahtzee™, up to three months before she died!

Having said that, every year brought its challenges. At first, we could go out to any local restaurant and she would order whatever she felt like. Over time, she started to feel overwhelmed by looking at the menu and just had me order for her.  She would eat whatever was put in front of her (of course, I ordered her favorites). Then, her fear of even getting into a car made going out not possible. So, I would go to Dairy Queen and bring her a hot fudge sundae and we would share.

The journey was not easy but there was one strategy that helped me significantly – talking about and practicing gratitude.  I have been giving presentations on gratitude for nearly 10 years and I have been practicing gratitude longer than that.  Presenting on that subject uplifted me. I loved to watch the expression on people’s faces as I took them through practical ideas for increasing gratitude, and how their whole demeanor changed from the minute they walked into the presentation room to when they left.

Writing in my gratitude journal was also significant. It Is not just writing about what you are grateful for but, more importantly, describing what happened and how it affected you.

I love sharing the following story about my Mom.  We were in the car driving to the casino (her favorite place to go) and she mentioned that Dad didn’t take her dancing very often. I said to her that that was not correct.  Dad used to take her dancing two or three times a week before they got married.  Her response (a classic) – “How do you know? You weren’t there!”  That was a perfect entry for my gratitude journal.

What are you grateful for today?

If you would like to read more stories, please check out YOU Can Create Positive Change at Work! by Kimberley Barker and me.

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